Medicine, pharmacy and veterinary medicine are three crucial life-saving disciplines around us. These disciplines and some paramedical disciplines have a snake as the major part of their logo, an animal considered by many to be very deadly as it is responsible for a lot of human’s death.
The reason why this beautiful creature is used as part of their logo can be traced back to the Greek god of healing and medicine, Asklepios, whose most sacred servants are snakes. The snake in question here was the Aesculapian snake.
Aesculapian snake is a species of non-venomous snake native to Europe, a member of the Colubrinae subfamily of the family Colubridae. Growing up to 2 meters in length, they are excellent climbers capable of ascending vertical, branchless tree trunks. The snakes have been observed at height of 4-5m and even in 15-20m in trees. The average lifespan is estimated at about 25-30 years.
Ancient writings tell us how those who took an offering to the god temple and waited for the god to come to them in their dreams or send his sacred servant are healed. The snake heals with just one touch of it forked (bifid) tongue.
The Romans decided to import these snakes to their temples during the plague that ravaged Rome in 293 BC, rather than to bring in Greek healers. A temple was built in honour of Asklepios after the plague, and this monument stands till date in Rome.
Most medical and paramedical disciplines use a staff called the staff of Asklepios entwined with a serpent which represents the god sacred servant as a major part of their logo today.
Hygieia, the Greek goddess of hygiene and the daughter of Asklepios, the god of healing and medicine. She does assist her father in preparing and administering herbs to the sick, which formed the basis of modern day pharmacy.
While Asklepios symbol is his rod with a snake entwined around it, Hygieia’s symbol is a cup with a snake twined around its base and poised above it. This is used as one of the logos of pharmacy today, and it is called the Bowl of Hygieia.
By Agunbiade Adewonuola (NaturePeak)
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